Saunas in Berlin are currently under official limitations regarding the Aufguss/steam/löyly that is allowed. However, we learned that the surrounding Brandenburg is a bit more lax with their regulations – great pretext for a sauna trip to our neighboring state! So one Friday in early in November we took a whole day off and jumped in a train to Werder (Havel), heading to Havel-Therme.
Havel-Therme is a full-fledged spa with pools and water slides. Most of our reviews deal with smaller Kiez-Saunas in Berlin proper, but the city is actually surrounded by spas in all directions. They are considerably larger operations with the aforementioned pools and water slides, making them popular with families, but many of them also boast an impressive number of saunas that suit our tastes just right. We don’t cover these spas as often simply because they require a bit more travel than is convenient on a regular weekday evening.
Havel-Therme is a brand new place that opened in June 2021. It’s divided in three sections: spa, saunas, and family baths. You’ll need to pay extra to get to the sauna area, and this probably contributes to it basically being adults only – families with kids stay with the water slides of the family area. The sauna section has seven saunas with a suitably complete Aufgussplan, three steam rooms, two pools, and a restaurant. Let’s cover the saunas first:
The first available Aufguss took place in a Banja sauna, and was advertised as a hot one in the Aufgussplan, but to our disappointment it turned out not to be so hot at all. The biggest reason for this is that the sauna has a very high ceiling, causing the heat to rise above bathers’ heads (this seems to be a common construction error around here). On the positive note we had a surprising first time experience in a German sauna, something called the Wenik-Zeremonie. Yes, we are already familiar with Saunameisters using the birch whisks as part of the Aufguss rituals, but this was the first time that the customers were actually allowed to beat themselves with one (a common practice in Finland). We took our turns of course, but for a proper enjoyment the heat level should have been a lot higher. It was fun though to observe the reactions of the (mostly German) clientele. For most of them this seemed to be the first birch beating ever.
Probably the most beautiful of all the saunas in Havel-Therme. As the name suggests, the ceiling consists of led stars, the walls of some oriental style ornamentations and the atmosphere overall is very dreamy. The Aufguss here was clearly on a hotter side too, combined with a sort of gong meditation session. Very good!
This sauna was the only one with no Aufgusses available. Instead the sauna offers a fireplace. There was no fire in the fireplace though. But the sauna itself was warmed up to a quite decent heat level, and we were able to enjoy a very nice in-between-Aufgusses warm up session.
Olivensauna is apparently named after an olive tree that grows outside the sauna. The sauna itself has an interesting architecture with some odd angles. We visited the sauna after finishing a small Aufguss-spree, and were a bit exhausted to start with. The Aufguss turned out to be quite enjoyable nevertheless.
The smallest of the saunas, also with the mildest Aufguss. We were a bit too late, and couldn’t find a spot on the highest bench anymore. During the Aufguss we couldn’t really feel any heat, it was just like sitting in a warm room. But that’s the idea of these Kräutersaunas we suppose: relaxation and warmth. Not everybody likes killer infusions. We of course do.
Literally brick sauna, this sauna is all bricks except for the benches and the roof. Looks very cozy. Heat is a bit lower, around 65°C, so you can sit here even a longer while, just thinking of whatever you need to think. All the Aufgusses in this sauna are mild too so that won’t disturb your meditation session too severely.
Alhambra is the big sauna in this place and easily seats several dozen people on four levels, with a panoramic view to a lake (if you can see it without glasses). Heat is dry and quite fine on the upper levels between Aufgusses too, but the Augfuss here is something you should not miss. In the schedule it was simply called “surprise”, and that’s exactly what we were up for on each of the three rounds we took here:
- First round – syrupy scents with Mariah Carey Christmas songs. We were a bit flabbergasted, and not totally convinced.
- Second round – full one-man spectacle with a colored light show, a fog machine pushing smoke from under the sauna oven, and a Saunameister rock show to the beat of AC/DC. Still a bit stunned but intrigued.
- Third round – atmospheric night lighting, smoke screen again, and a Saunameister delivering Aufguss while interpreting Boléro by Maurice Ravel with snowballs and a massive fan. We were almost as floored as the theatrical Saunameister himself after the show was over!
This spectacle alone could be a reason to visit Havel-Therme for everyone but the most uptight sauna purists among us. On the one hand such sauna shows leave us a bit baffled – what did I just witness? On the other hand, it is very refreshing to see how sauna culture can be taken to so different directions when not taken too seriously.
Beers are available in the restaurant, or in either of the two pools of the sauna area. There is a bar that is extending to the outside pool with underwater seating. A second, smaller pool inside in the middle of the restaurant has a similar arrangement. The pools, like all saunas, are textile free (meaning no swimsuits allowed).
Day ticket for the sauna area is 35€ and beers are 3.90€ each. Restaurant menu you’ll find on the spa website. We have to give a special mention to the draft wheat beer Erdinger Urweizen that they carry, a very tasty refreshment between sauna rounds!
We left around nine in the evening, and there were people still just entering at that hour. On weekend evenings the last Aufguss is served at one o’clock at night. We are intrigued if that means that Havel-Therme turns into a local nightlife hotspot at the late hours. Maybe we’ll find out the next time – there sure will be a next time, as this is a fine spa indeed.
- Many saunas, and a separate area for them
- Very easy check in and check out
- Easy train trip even though this one is in Brandenburg
- Very friendly service
- Located right next to Havel, but has no access to the water
Great destination for a day trip both for couples and friend groups. Frequent Aufgusses.